FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake was founded in 1994. The mission of FRIENDS is to preserve and protect the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the lake through education, research, advocacy and the arts. The long-term vision of FRIENDS is to achieve comprehensive watershed-based restoration and protection for the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem.

FRIENDS has a very active Board of Directors and an Advisory Board consisting of professionals in the scientific, political, literary, education, and broadcast communities. The organization sponsors an array of programs, activities, and materials in pursuit of its mission.

Every two years, FRIENDS hosts the Great Salt Lake Issues Forum to provide a focused discussion about the Lake for policy makers, researchers, planners, industry and other stakeholders. The goal of each Forum is to encourage constructive dialogue about the future of the lake's ecosystem and its resources, and to illuminate the complexities involved in research, management and planning for the lake.

The Friend of the Lake Award, given at each Forum, acknowledges a citizen, business or organization working to promote GSL awareness in the community.

In 1998, FRIENDS was awarded the Conservation Achievement Award by the Utah Chapter of the Wildlife Society.

In 2000, Project SLICE, a 4th grade curriculum using Great Salt Lake as a system of study, was initiated. It consists of 7 units of study, a Speakers Network, Teacher Training Workshop, and Lakeside Learning Field Trips.

In 2002, the Doyle W. Stephens Scholarship Award was established. The scholarship provides support to undergraduate and graduate students engaged in new or on-going research that focuses on Great Salt Lake.

In 2002, Lynn de Freitas, FoGSL Board President, was awarded the Outstanding Volunteer Educator Award by the Utah Society for Environmental Education.

In 2006, FRIENDS was the recipient of the Calvin K. Sudweeks Award by the Utah Water Quality Board for outstanding contributions in the water quality field.

In 2006, Lynn de Freitas, Executive Director, received the "Award for Courage, Confidence, and Character" from the Girl Scouts of Utah. The award recognizes women and men who, through their life and actions, have made a difference in the community.

In 2014, FRIENDS established The Alfred Lambourne Prize, an annual recognition and celebration of regional creativity inspired by our inland sea. FRIENDS invited creative work inspired by the Lake in the forms of visual arts, literary arts, sound and movement.

In 2014, our Lakeside Learning Field Trip Program introduced over 1400 fourth grade students to the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem.

In 2015, thanks to a generous grant from Cargill Salt, FRIENDS launched an extenstion of our Lakeside Learning Field Trip Program to serve the Tooele School District.  

Below is a comprehensive list of government agencies, organizations, and businesses involved with Great Salt Lake. This includes groups working on management and protection, as well as organizations involved with industry, recreation, education, and more. Organizations are categorized according to focus area and may appear in more than one category.

Don't see the group you're looking for, or have suggestions for changes to this page? Email us at

Great Salt Lake Education Organizations

Great Salt Lake Recreation Organizations

Great Salt Lake Academic Research Organizations

Great Salt Lake Conservation/Advocacy Organizations

Great Salt Lake Art

Great Salt Lake Industry - Businesses and Co-op's

Great Salt Lake Management - Federal Agencies

Great Salt Lake Management - State/Local Agencies & Committees

Places to Visit (Nature Preserves, Parks, Etc.)

Great Salt Lake Issues

Great Salt Lake supports a rich and dynamic biological system of regional, national and global importance. The amazing abundance of bird life at Great Salt Lake has earned its designation as a "Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve." Birds of regional, national and international significance are drawn to its 15,000 square miles of various water environments, remote islands and shorelines, and about 400,000 acres of wetlands. Every year five million birds from 257 different species rely on the lake to feast during their thousand mile or more migrations. While there, they enjoy a unique and safe sanctuary that supports numerous breeding populations. The ecology of life at Great Salt Lake is an extraordinary example of the rich web of relationships between land and water, food and survival.

Great Salt Lake is a terminal lake with no outlet. Over time lake levels and salinity change dramatically depending on the level and quality of freshwater inputs from the Bear, Weber and Jordan River systems in tandem with seasonal evaporation rates. The geography of the lake combined with man-made causeways, create a diversity of lake environments varying from the extremely salty North arm (almost 28%), to the nearly freshwater Farmington Bay. Such diverse water environments are connected to expansive playas, shorelines and uplands to create excellent habitats for innumerable plants, invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds.

Basic Lake Facts:

  • On an average year, the GSL covers 1,700 square miles with a maximum depth of 33 feet. Current lake elevation information is available from USGS for gauges at Saltair (South Arm) and Saline (North Arm). Additional USGS elevation data is available
  • Water enters the Great Salt Lake via direct preciptation, Bear, Weber, and Jordan Rivers, and internal springs. The Great Salt Lake watershed is over 21,000 square miles.
  • Water entering the Great Salt Lake carries dissolved minerals. When the water evaporates, it leaves those minerals and salts behind, resulting in salty water.
  • Great Salt Lake salinity varies across the lake and is typically 3 to 5 times saltier than the ocean.
  • The Union Pacific Railroad Causeway divides the Great Salt Lake into North and South Arms with vastly different ecosystems on either side.
  • The notorious "Lake Stink" is largely attributed to human-caused nutrient loading in Farmington Bay.
  • 75% of Utah's wetlands are located in the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem.
  • Over 7 million migratory birds stop at GSL each year to feed, nest, and rest.
  • The lake is alive! Bacteria, algae, zooplankton, brine shrimp, and brine flies form an important food web.
  • Brine shrimp harvest and mineral extraction industries at Great Salt Lake are worth millions of dollars.
  • The Great Salt Lake Ecosystem is popular for wildlife viewing, boating, swimming, and hiking. It attracts visitors from around the world.

For more information, visit our Weblinks page for a listing of links organizations working with Great Salt Lake.

Lake Fact Sheets

pdf Life Forms at Great Salt Lake

pdf 10 Myths About Great Salt Lake

pdf Wetlands Watch

pdf Physical Features of Great Salt Lake

pdf Biotic Features of Great Salt Lake

pdf What's That Smell?


Why We Care

  • We should bill the lake for what it is—a place of grandeur and solitude, which nourishes our thoughts and heightens our sensitivity to nature. Seen in that light, the brine flies become a fascinating curiosity more than an annoyance. The Great Salt Lake offers a wilderness experience, not a beach party, and no amount of promotion and development will change that.

    Dean L. May, Images of the Great Salt Lake